Hutchinson Junior Legion pitcher Alex Prieve threw a complete-game shutout Monday to help Post 96 defeat Litchfield 2-0. It was one of the team’s final games of the season and the second part of a doubleheader with VFW Post 906.
Both teams had good pitching performances. The only runs were scored in the top of the fifth when a Litchfield throw to first base sailed high, allowing two Hutch runners to reach home plate.
“We just beat a good team,” head coach Lee Kuhl said. “We beat a real good team.”
Avery Liestman, a top starting pitcher for Litchfield’s high school varsity team, struck out 12 batters and allowed no earned runs. Prieve topped that performance by scattering five hits on 56 pitches, almost half of what Liestman threw. Not too shabby for a player who wasn’t planning on pitching until 15 minutes before the game.
“I thought it was going to be (Isaac Starke) the entire way, then coach comes over, ‘Hey, Prieve, you’re pitching if we don’t find a catcher,’” Prieve said. “One thing led to another and we’re going and I’m starting on the mound, which I was pretty excited about because I hadn’t thrown in a while. So it was good to get back in the groove and everything.”
Hutch was shut down in its previous meeting with Litchfield, an 8-0 home loss, but Prieve used that experience to capitalize on his opportunity.
“I knew from the last time that we played these guys that they were a good hitting team,” he said. “So my goal was knees and lower, and I was working more on the off-speed stuff because I know the last time we didn’t have much off-speed for the two pitchers (who faced) them. I’m just glad I finally had my curveball working, and changeup and all that stuff. They were working to perfection.”
The winning pitcher also credited the defense behind him for making plays when necessary, an aspect that Kuhl also noted has improved in recent weeks.
“We made plays,” Kuhl said. “Some were basic plays, but we’ve been making plays that three, four weeks ago we were not making. … We don’t score a lot of runs, but we’ve been getting better. We put a few balls in play, and they made an error that let us score a couple runs. Sometimes we need some help to score.”
Hutchinson has two weeks until it moves into the postseason. It’s experienced a lot of moving parts day to day as it shares players with other teams. Despite the ever-changing lineup, Kuhl is happy with the progress of the team and the strides the players have made.
“I think they’re having fun,” he said. “I would say we’re becoming a better ball club as the summer goes on, which is the goal. They’re becoming better players, and hopefully some of the guys can help the varsity next spring.”
Hutchinson Jr. Legion 2, Litchfield VFW 0 (July 8)
Hutch ... 000 020 — 2
Litch .... 000 000 — 0
Batting - Olmscheid 1-2, R, BB, SB; Rensch 1-3; Hart 1-3; Prieve 0-3; Starke 0-3; Dettman 1-2; Hensen 0-1; Telecky 0-0, BB, R; Wortz 0-1; Corrow 0-2; Totals — 4-20, 2R, 0RBI, 2BB, 12K
Pitching - Prieve (W) 6IP-5H-0R-0ER-1BB-1K